Stephenie Meyer owns the Twilight characters. Part of this is based on real life. I did have a friend, Kate, who was a Standardized Patients for the U of T Medical School in the early 90's. There was a bar called The Public Library near Ryerson University with comfy mis-matched chairs. There is a George Brown Campus in Kensington Market. The late night Yonge St. bus is called the vomit comet by locals. Everything else is completely made up. Many, many thanks to beachcomberlc for continually cleaning up my messes and commas.
The Practical Patient
I guess you can say that maybe we should never have gotten together. After all these years, it can be hard to remember why we started seeing each other when we had such a rocky beginning. We are not quite polar opposites, but damn close. We were, and sometimes still are, on different latitudes. But I love him and wouldn't trade our story for any other.
It began, as many great love stories do, with a complete misunderstanding. He called me a whore and I embarrassed him in front of others. You know, typical boy meets girl.
George Brown College is located in downtown Toronto, in Kensington Market near Chinatown. The neighbourhood is funky and eclectic. It attracts a wide variety of people from many different cultures. I started my studies there in the fall of 1993. I was taking Performing Arts, much to my dad's displeasure. He wanted me to work with him at the Toronto Transit Commission. But, hell no, there wasn't a chance I was going to get stuck operating the Vomit Comet up and down Yonge Street after the bars closed. No, I was going to be in the theatre somehow. Any way I could, even if it was just ticket sales or ushering. He relented after a while, especially when he saw me in my high school's production of My Fair Lady. I must say, I kicked Eliza Doolittle's ass in that production. I owned the bitch. I had to in order to carry my Henry Higgins. The boy was as festive as the fourth of July, if you catch my drift, and could barely act his way out of a paper bag. But I digress.
So, yeah, I'm in my second year of George Brown and having a blast. However, money was getting tighter and tighter. Dad couldn't really afford to help much and rent in Toronto can be steep. I didn't want to tend bar or schlep coffee to the masses. I know, I know, I shouldn't have been so picky and a job is a job, but a girl has to have some standards. My friend Kate, a French Literature major at U of T pulled me aside and told me about the part time work she did. It was fun and easy and pretty good money so I applied too. Thus began my illustrious career as a Standardised Patient.
There is actually a fairly rigorous process to becoming an SP. There were several interviews, a psychologist meeting, peeing in a cup and my absolute favourite, a stool sample. I had to prove that I wasn't some sort of medical fetishist or hypochondriac. I'm happy to say I passed all the tests. There was a six-week training course that completely outlined what we were to do. We were paid to help train student doctors and residents so that they could better interact with their patients, twenty-five dollars per hour in four to six hour shifts. We were given various scenarios that we played out with them such as how to break the bad news or what to do with an overly amorous patient. Most of the time it was all verbal with us giving very subtle hints while they took our histories. You know, all that crap you have to tell the doctor before they actually do something for you just in case your Aunt Ethel's butt boil led to your chest infection. Like having to tell the doctor that the voices in your head have started speaking Spanish instead of Mandarin before the doctor will up your meds. Or disclosing that the reason why you have that rash is not from a fun weekend with a buff young thing called Rob but from your overly affectionate cat Fluffy. It was rocking good fun stuff.
My speciality was crying. I could cry at the drop of a hat. It would freak the baby doctors out, let me tell you. After six months of being told that there was nothing they could do to save my fill-in-the-blank relative and faking obscure illnesses I got promoted.
Now, if you ask my father, and god I hope you don't, my promotion involves filing. Yup, I told him I was filing. In reality, I was getting felt up over and over again a few nights a week. That's right, I let the baby doctors palpate my tits for ten dollars more per hour. Hey, don't judge, it kept the ramen noodles out of my cupboards. I still did histories and came on to nervous interns, under strict supervision, of course, but letting them practice breast exams paid better. And I wasn't getting any action anywhere else. Theatre school is not the place to find straight boys. Well, no, there are lots of straight boys but aside from my job and on stage, believe it or not, I'm very shy.
It's not that weird really. Most actors are shy. It is easier to be someone else on stage than to be yourself all the time. Fake it 'til you make it and all that jazz.
So, on to the juicy parts. After a year of being a medical actor, I decided to go for broke and start earning the really, really big bucks. That's right, ladies, we are talking pelvic exams. Seventy-five bucks an hour and all the humiliation you can handle. Thing is though, it didn't really bother me any. I wasn't going to see these doctors again and if I did, well, they probably wouldn't recognise me anyway. It's not like they were looking at my face or anything like that. Most of them were more embarrassed than I was. The teachers were great and the nurses were even better. Together we hand-held these baby doctors through proper speculum placement, what cold means, and just where they should stick that swab. Most of the baby doctors were great. Once in a while you'd get that asshole one who though they knew more than any one else about all things vagina, especially those of us who had a vagina. I'm sure you've met that type before, maybe even dated one. They come in all walks of life, not only doctors, just saying.
The head nurse in the Med/Ed department, and my favourite chaperone, Tanya, would let me know when one of those student doctors was on the floor and we would play with it a little. I say it because douchery is not limited to the male species, there are plenty of nasty female junior doctors out there, let me tell you.
Now, picture a cold January afternoon. There I was, in my over-washed pale blue gown, pink fluffy socks on my feet, a chip on my shoulder and my panties in my purse. Tanya had informed me that a particularly nasty specimen was in this rotation. Collins, Cummings, Carter or Constantine, something like that, some kind of C name. Any way, this guy thought he was hot shit and made the nurses' lives hell. So, we devised a little game to play on him. I would tell him my 'symptoms' and get just to the point before the little turd could place the speculum and then I would cry. Big, fat bambi tears. I would fuss and cry through out the entire exam to see him flustered. It was mean but the kid needed to be taught not to mess with the nursing staff or the Standardised Patients. He may be the one getting the MD, but we were the ones teaching him.
My first doctor for that night was a young woman. She was good, gentle but not ticklish by being too gentle. She wasn't squicked out by having to do the exam and she got the right diagnosis from the clues I gave her. She was professional, detached but caring at the same time.
My next doctor was also female. She was more the 'suck it up, buttercup' type. Not rough but not quite nice enough. Do you know the type? Had to prove herself over and over again and lost a little sympathy along the way.
The doctor after that was a guy. It was a very non-eventful exam. He missed some of the telling symptoms I gave him and pronounced me fine when I was giving him clues to early endometriosis. Oh well, his teacher would go over everything with him during the follow up. He seemed like the type who wouldn't make the same mistake twice.
Tanya had to step out to take care of something else and Heidi took her place. Heidi was good, really very good at her job. She was one of those nurses who couldn't be anything other than a nurse. Like a calling, you know. I gave her the hint about the doctor Tanya and I were pranking just so that she wouldn't haul off and call an ambulance for me.
And then he walked into the room.
God help me, he was cute. Like, really cute. Glasses. A bit of scruff. Tall. Great hair.
He walked over to where I was sitting on the exam table and introduced himself.
"Hi there, I'm Dr. Cullen. What seems to be the problem, Miss Swan?"
Cullen, oh shit! Was that the name of the idiot? I couldn't remember, just that it started with a C. Double shit. It figures that the asshole would be hot. Oh well, time to tear up and rip him a new one.
I gave him the early warning symptoms for PID, pelvic inflammatory disease. Not glamorous, my job, is it? He should have known by what I told him that I would be in for a painful exam. Little did he know…
I deserved a theatre award for that one.
He, very professionally, asked if he could start the exam by touching me. I hesitated, but agreed. It took him a long time to begin but when he did his hands were extremely cold. I started by whimpering then flinching. He blushed and stammered his way through. I tensed my thighs and squirmed around. He dropped the speculum. I hissed and took the most shuddering breaths. He blushed. Heidi held my hand in between passing him supplies. He fumbled the swabs. She there there'd me very well.
Finally I burst into tears. When he looked up at me from between my thighs I almost forgot about the whole charade. Great Googly-Moogly, he was pretty. The frames of his glasses set off the colour of his eyes. Part of me wanted to grab that hair and stuff it back where it had just been. I could imagine doing dirty nasty things with this man.
The poor boy was so flustered, he said, and I tease him about it to this day, "Do you want me to kiss it better?" I have never sat up so quickly in my life. I clamped my knees together so hard a crowbar couldn't part them. In the loudest, clearest voice I could muster, I yelled at him to get out of the room.
That was it. I was done for the night. I had Heidi get Tanya and we rearranged the schedule. I showered and dressed. I did the follow-up with the first three doctors. I gave them my critique from the patient's point of view and gave the paperwork to Tanya. I purposely left Dr. Kiss-it-better for last. I wanted to speak to his professor before filling out his paperwork. I was storming around the department when I ran into Inappropriate Doctor talking with some of the other students. I tried to storm around him but he stopped me. Well, this was going to be fun.
"God, I'm so sorry. I-I-I don't know what happened. I didn't mean to hurt you. I know you are a professional and everything. I just, I just didn't think it would hurt like that and..."
"A professional and everything? What the hell do you mean by that? Do you think I'm a prostitute or something just because of what I do? Is that what you think?" I was fuming.
"No-no-no-no. I-I-I. . ."
"Screw you, buddy."
I saw Dr. Platt coming down the hall. She was a member of the teaching department and helped co-ordinate the Standardised Patients. I stopped her and in front of her, the other interns, and that guy, I let it rip. I told her every little thing he had done wrong including the 'kiss it better' remark. The guy just stood there and took it while the other interns tried not to laugh out loud at him.
In hindsight, I really shouldn't have done it that way. I should have taken Dr. Platt and Dr. Kissy-Face into a private room. I still feel badly about that. But come on, I was mad. I was taken off of the pelvic exam schedule for the rest of the semester for yelling at a student in the halls. He was given extra patient relations classes. I found out later that he wasn't even the doctor I was supposed to cry for. Tanya had given him to Angela for his test exam. Angela looked scary. She was heavily pierced and tattooed. She always had lots of dark make-up with her. To scare the douchey doctor she had gotten one of the nurses to apply a fake tattoo on her upper inner thigh that said 'Property of Bubba. If you can read this, I'll kill you'. It worked. He was as nice as nice can be. His professor took him aside after and laid down the law. He did okay in the long run. I think I heard he went into research instead of patient care, though.
So, long story now even longer, I pranked the wrong guy. I felt bad for the most part but I couldn't get over the 'kiss it better' part. Oh, and the 'professional' comment really bugged me too.
One night, maybe two months later, I was having a drink with some friends at The Public Library. You know, that bar by Ryerson University that all the newly legal kids go to. 'No, Mum, I'm not going out drinking. I'm just going to The Public Library with my friends'. That place. We were waiting for our turn at this one pool table when in walks Dr. Kissy-Face and a few others. I hid behind my beer and pretended I wasn't there. Which was really hard to do 'cause my friends are loud, you know, thespians.
I slunk over to one of the armchairs and tried to become upholstery. It didn't work. He downed a beer and came over to where I was hiding.
"Could I talk to you for a moment?"
My lifelong ambition to become floral chintz was dashed and I agreed to talk to him. He led me over to a table in the corner and bought two more beers.
"I'd like to introduce myself properly. My name is Edward Cullen. I'm a third year medical student." Okay, this wasn't awkward at all. Part of the trouble was that he was still so damn hot even with all the foufaraw and fuckery of how we met.
"I'm Bella Swan, Standardised Patient and theatre student at George Brown."
It turns out that pretty boy was a good guy after all. First, he was Dr. Platt's son, so he knew all about the Standardised Patient programme. When he called me a professional he really didn't mean hooker. He had really bought my painful exam routine and thought that he had hurt me. He was mortified. He had also just finished a pediatric rotation and had gotten into the habit of suggesting he kiss booboos, so he really wasn't offering to do what I thought he was offering to do.
He also informed me that he was nervous and distracted 'cause he thought I was pretty, too. The idea of doing a pelvic exam on someone he was attracted to made it just that much weirder and harder, no pun intended.
He understood that Collins, the other student, needed to be taken down a peg and he didn't fault either Tanya or me for wanting to teach him a lesson.
In turn, I apologised profusely for my reaction and behaviour.
He bought us another round and we talked. I bought a round and we talked some more. We found that we had a few things in common, a few bands we both liked to listen to, a TV show here and there and a few cheap, divey restaurants around the city. He was a nice guy and easy to talk to. Easy on the eyes, too. He insisted on walking me home just after midnight and he didn't try anything when we reached my place. I gave him my number and he actually called. We went out a few times before he planted one on me that made my toes curl.
A few more dates found him kissing all my booboos better and, boy howdy, let me tell you, the man is a fine doctor. Very, very diligent in patient care. Thorough would be a good word. Mind-blowing would be another. He swings a good stethoscope. Is that too much information?
The rest, as they say, is history. He specialised in Ophthalmology, having been scared off Gynaecology for the rest of his career. He much preferred to have his patients fully dressed. And I can attest to the fact that the man does his best work in the dark.
I got a job working at The Young People's Theatre after working small parts on a few big productions. I found helping young actors much more rewarding than putting up with the divas on stage. We bought a little place in Cabbagetown and raised two Weimaraners and one small child. His mother, Dr. Platt, still giggles at us from time to time. I have nothing whatsoever to do with the University of Toronto Medical Education Department. On their behalf, Esme Platt thanks me for that at least once a year.
And, so far, we've lived happily ever after.
AN:So, I can't believe a little story about inappropriate gynaecology won 2nd place judge's vote in the Meet the Mate contest. Thank you so much to the hosts, judges and admins. Congratulations to everyone who entered for making this contest so much fun. And extra congratulations to all the winners, good job.